TRANSCRIPTION | Wednesday, March 31, 2021 | Choose Life

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Hey, everybody, welcome to 3trees Church Online. The last few weeks we've been meeting in our Columbia location, and we've been having a time of prayer. It's been great services. We felt the presence of God. There's been prayer requests that have been lifted to heaven, and I think God has answered several of those, which has been greatly encouraging to me as a pastor and to our church as a whole. But tonight, we're back online doing a Bible study. And we just want to do this this evening to kind of help prepare your heart, prepare your family, for Good Friday services, for Easter Sunday services. You can go to 3trees.com, and you can find all the information for how those services will unfold. Good Friday, we will have an Eastern Time zone service at our Campbellsville location. We will have a Central Time zone service at a Russell springs location. I'm sure they can even put the information for that in the comment sections. And then Easter Sunday, it will be 11 o'clock in Russell springs; it'll be 8:30am Central and 10am Central in Columbia; and then in Campbellsville, it'll be 9:30am Eastern and 11am Eastern right there in campbellsville. So. believing for just a great day of God moving. And I will say this to you. Some of those service times are changed up a little bit, and they're changed up just for Easter Sunday, okay. Next Sunday, we go back to our normal service times. But like for instance, if you come to Columbia, typically at 9:45, instead of sliding up into that 10 o'clock service, give strong consideration to come in at 8:30am. Because we know we're going to have a lot of guests, a lot of new people at 10am. You can help us make room, and our church believes in that. We believe in making room. Aren't you glad Jesus made room for you at the cross? So sometimes you got to make room at the church for the people who need to get to the cross, okay. Same thing for those of you who normally attend Campbellsville at 9:30am, please consider coming at 11am. Let's open up some seats and give people some space to experience Jesus. And there's room at the cross, amen, this Easter Sunday. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I've asked pastor Curt, Pastor Jason, to join me tonight at the table. I love the table. I love to talk about the table. I love to preach about the table. I love to theologically study and evaluate the table. I love everything that the table meets. In fact, tonight, we're going to invite you to the table, and we're actually going to have a time of communion together. I want you to go ahead and get the crackers, the bread, the cup so that you can participate in communion with us, okay. Maybe you need to pause the broadcast for a moment. But tonight at the conclusion of the service, we're going to all come up to the Lord's table and we're going to partake of the Lord's Supper together and celebrate communion. These guys are going to be taking us to the cross of Jesus Christ, okay. They're going to take us to some scriptures that kind of paint a picture of what was going on with the cross of Jesus. And after they finished that, I'm going to share with you how those verses and the cross of Jesus gave 3trees Church its name, okay. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Pastor Curt, why don't you take us to Matthew chapter 27, verses 33 through 38, alright. This shows you how we need production people, because the production people, they would have had you there first. Okay. You would have saw that. But I'm running it tonight, so I got you ahead of schedule. But maybe you got it pulled up, KJV version, Matthew 27, verse 33. 

 

Pastor Curt Hill

“And when they were coming to a place called Golgotha,” that is to say, a place of the skull, “they gave him vinegar to drink. It was mingled with Gall. And when he tasted of it, he would not drink, and they crucified Him, and part of his garments, casting lots that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophet. And sitting down, they watched him  there and set over his head, his accusation written, This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. And there were two thieves crucified with Him; one on the right hand, and another on the left.” 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I feel like I kind of know what Jesus was dealing with. He had one thief on the left, one thief on the…..Totally, totally, totally joking. And I don't mean to make light of the cross of Jesus at all because the truth of it is there's really some powerful imagery there. I mean, you see that there's a place like the skull if you ever get a chance to visit Jerusalem, Israel, you'll see the place where they believe that Jesus was crucified. It actually is a big ole hill that looks like a skull. And Jesus being crucified there while the Romans are mocking him casting lots, Jesus refused the vinegar. You know, some people say that the reason they think that transpired is because the vinegar may have had a numbing agent in it. And Jesus was refusing anything that would take away the pain, okay. Now, but what I want to really draw your attention to is verse 38. It says, “And then there were two thieves crucified with Jesus. So one thief on the left hand, one thief on the right. Pastor Jason, why don't you take us over to the book of Luke, chapter number 23, and kind of pick up the storyline with those thieves.

 

Pastor Jason Hood

Luke 23, verses 39 through 43 says this, “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him saying, are you not the Christ, save yourself and us. But the other rebuked him saying, do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation, and we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds. But this man has done nothing wrong. And he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And he, Jesus, said to him, truly, I say to you, today, you will be with me in paradise.”

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, when you think about Jesus, you get this imagery of him being on the cross. And like I said, you're seeing tonight why we need production people. But what you see, this imagery of Jesus, he's on the cross. And then obviously, there is a thief that's to the left, and there is a thief that's to the right. And what's happening on this sinner cross is Jesus is releasing salvation, right? I mean, he's releasing grace. Because what's happening is all of God's wrath is being poured out against sin on Jesus. The Bible says Jesus, knowing no sin became sin for us. And while Jesus is dying, between these two thieves, they have to respond to what is happening with Jesus. So they have, they have to form some kind of a decision of how they feel about what's going on in this sinner cross. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So, what happens is on one side, the man rejects it. But on the other side, the man receives it. So, Jesus is releasing it, and one man rejects it, and the other man receives it. But as I mentioned a moment ago, the bottom line is, they both had to respond to it. okay. And so, 3trees Church, originally we started under another name simply called Higher Praise, and it was all about giving praise to God. And as the church grew and expanded, we realized that name didn't really kind of fit the mission and the vision statement that we felt like we had. We were still going to be people of praise, we were still going to be people of, you know, of a great worship experience. But we just felt like we really wanted something that even in its name provoked curiosity about the gospel of Jesus Christ. And so 3trees Church gets its name from the cross and the hillside of Golgotha with Jesus. And the idea is that if you've got three crosses, ultimately, it took some trees to make them. So the imagery of three trees, three crosses, and what we want to do is, we want to provoke a response to what Jesus is releasing, you know. The Bible says that the Lord’s house will be filled, because the people of God go out into the highways into the hedges and compel the lost to come in. Jesus said that his mission and coming to the earth is he came to seek and to save the lost. And so our church, we really do want to be all about seeking the lost. And so we're focused on that center cross where Jesus Christ was at, and he was releasing amazing grace. And it's sad that one God did reject it. But it's exhilarating to think that the other guy received it. And it's 50/50. But we see that they had to respond to what Jesus was releasing. And that's the message behind 3trees Church is that we want to provoke a positive response to the cross of Jesus Christ and what His grace has released. 
 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so it was thinking about that and thinking about how, you know, we're, because honestly, I think it was April 2010, Easter 2010. I think you guys would have probably been at the church at that time, that we changed our name to 3trees on an Easter weekend, and if I'm not mistaken, it was a Good Friday service. And we were just celebrating the fact that hey, man, we get to receive what Jesus has released, and we want to provoke a positive response to that all across South Kentucky and beyond. And so if you ever wonder how 3trees got its name, there you go, that's where it came from. And so, thinking through this, my mind began to reflect upon a passage of text. It's actually an Old Testament verse. And I just want to share it with you guys tonight. It says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life that both you and your descendants may live.” 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Now, when we're talking about the cross of Jesus Christ, and there's a thief on the left hand, and there's a thief on the right hand, one receives one rejects, we've settled that, okay. But what you got to realize is they had to make a choice, okay. And when I look at this promise of Deuteronomy chapter 30, I believe that it is relevant to us today. Because we get to have a relationship with Father God because of what the cross of Jesus Christ has made available for our lives. And so when you're reading this verse, what you see is that all of us, all of us have to respond, all of us have to make a decision, all of us have a choice, we have to choose. And I just really love the way that this passage of text breaks it down. That God says, “I call all of heaven and all of earth as witnesses.” You know, we think about how that Scripture often talks about the fact that everything should be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. And that has a lot of symbolism in Scripture. But in this instance, God has chosen to witness all of heaven, and all of earth. And a lot of times, I think, when we're looking at verses like this, and God is saying something like this, when he is calling heaven into this as a witness, I think he's speaking in terms of eternity. So you almost can think of this in regards to earth is the temporal, but heaven is the eternal. And so what's happening here is God's not just speaking about your lifetime on this earth, he's talking about your eternity. So we're not just dealing with what you're going to experience in the here in the now, we're dealing with what you're going to experience in the hereafter. And so what God says is heaven and earth, they're bearing witness witness of what's about to take place here. And what God says is I have set before you. So think about it's a table, and it's set before you, and he's laying options out on the table. There's something on the left side, and there's something on the right side. There's something on this side, and there's something on that side. And so what he says is that on one side, there is life, and on the other side, there is death. On one side, there is blessing, and on the other side, there is cursing. And so he says, I've said it before you And what he says you gotta do is you got to choose. And he's like if you're going to choose, then you need to choose life, can I get a witness from somebody? I mean, you know what I’m saying. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So, just imagine this that God has called heaven and earth to a table. And he's brought heaven and earth all around the table in a prophetic sense, in a spiritual sense, heaven and earth all around the table. And God has brought you up to this table, and he sets it down, and he says, alright, right here's life and right here's death. And if you choose life, you get with it the blessing. But if you choose death, you get with it, the cursing. And so the only way to the blessing is through choosing life, and you're going to experience the cursing if you choose death. And so you've got it set before you, and you got to make a decision. And God says Let me help you make the decision in case you're struggling with it. Like if you're having to decide whether you want life or you want death, if you want blessing, you want cursing, let me help you with it; he says, hey, choose life. Choose life. And here's the amazing thing that God says to you and me is if we will make the right choice. That is that both you and your descendants may live. That both you and your descendants might live. That there is the reality of a generational blessing

if we can just make the right choices. But it starts with somebody making the right choice. I don't know what your family tree has been up to this point, I don't know what your lineage has been up to this point. But at some point, you got to make a decision to change the choices. Because with choices come consequences. And often the consequences are aligning ourselves with the things that are against God, rather than aligning ourselves with the things that are for God. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, when I think about those two thieves, it's like Jesus is in the middle of them. And Jesus is set before them. And they got a choice to make. And one guy, even on the verge of losing breath, as he knows it, chooses death, and gets the curse that comes with that. But the other guy, he chooses life, and gets the blessing that comes with that. And Jesus says to a man, today, you're going to be with me in paradise. And so I just, I would strongly encourage you to just thank God for the fact that you've made the right choice. And even if up to this point, you've not made the right choice that right now without going another moment in your life, you can draw a line in the sand, and spiritually pull up to the table with God and say, I am done choosing death, and I'm done choosing curses, I am ready to choose life, and I'm ready to choose blessing. And what better time to do that than Easter weekend. Like, maybe this is the time for the first time ever in your life, you choose to go to church on Easter Sunday. Maybe it's the first time ever you choose to go truly all in with God and say like, I'm going to choose a life. Maybe there's some people that you really care about that you need to go that extra step up and invite them to church this weekend, invite them to a Good Friday service, invite them to an Easter Sunday service because you're like, I want these folks to choose life. And you know what you get to be a part of, you get to be a part of the witnesses of heaven and earth, of pulling them up to the table and what God is going to set before them that they're gonna choose the right thing. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so, I was thinking about even like how in my family, I mean, my mom and dad both come from great families. But kind of, to my understanding about my dad's side of the family, there had not really ever been a moment in his spiritual lineage where someone said, I'm all in with Jesus, I'm gonna follow Jesus, I'm gonna be a born-again believer. Now, thankfully, I know that others in his family have made that decision now. I know that even his father and mother made that decision before, you know, they passed from this world to the next. But kind of my understanding is there never really been that moment until my dad at some point in his life, maybe even, let's say 20-30 years ago, I'm gonna guess the summer around the late 70s, wasn't raised in church, didn't grow up in church per se, in the way that many of you would relate to going to church or growing up in church, didn't necessarily grow up in a home that was filled with prayer and Bible reading and making a point to make sure that they had the kids in Sunday school. That wasn't his experience. But at some moment, he has this reality where life and death is set before him blessing and cursing is set before him. And I'm so glad that my dad chose life and that he chose blessing. And you know, what's been amazing is that for me, like I've had some moments where I've drifted from God in my teenage years, but like following God has never really been something that's been up as a major question in my life. It's just like, this is who we are, this is what we do, and God will bless you if you will follow him. And now I'm believing that my kids are going to be the descendants that benefit from their grandfather setting the standard in his home, and me benefiting from that. And now I'm believing my kids are going to continue to serve God, and I want to grow up someday and see grandkids, and great grandkids, and great great grandkids who are serving the Lord. But it starts with somebody somewhere making that decision that I'm going to choose life. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so, you know, Jason, if you want to take the mic there for a second. I know that you grew up in a home where your dad, your dad's actually on staff with us now. He's a pastor, you're a pastor. I don't know, I hear Jayla is the next worship leader, you know, about 20 years down the road. But what was your dad's story? Was your grandpa a follower of Jesus? 

Pastor Jason Hood

You know, I feel like my story is very similar to yours in the fact that I think my grandmother may have taken my father and his brothers to church from time to time. To my understanding, my papaw, he did not receive Jesus until he was on his deathbed or close to his life being over. He finally accepted Jesus. But I've heard my father preach enough that it was the year of 1979, and he was walking through the living room. And he heard the music of “Just as I am” from the Billy Graham crusade that was on the TV. And he couldn't run any longer. He had to just surrender to God because of the conviction that was on his life. And from that day forward, he has served God ever since. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Wow. And I remember meeting you when you were in high school. And your dad was pastoring a church in. I think Taylorsville, Kentucky. He loved the Lord. You were still trying to figure out if you did or not. 

 

Pastor Jason Hood

That's correct.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

But, you were raised the way that you should go. You were raised in a house that showed you life and blessing versus death and cursing. And you ultimately, we were moving some stuff the other day, and I found a letter that you wrote me when you were in your late teens. And it was basically talking about man, God's moving in my life. I'm so grateful for everything God has done. I'm so grateful for the blessings, and you were asking me if you could come live and Russell springs. 

 

Pastor Jason Hood

Wow. Come on.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

It didn’t come via email, it didn’t come via text. He sent it snail mail. Like that's, that's how far we go back. 

 

Pastor Jason Hood

 Wow, you're gonna make me cry right here. Wow. That's incredible. I remember being in church, and I remember being a teenager, and I didn't always want to be there. It was like our story is the only drug problem we ever had, our parents drug us to church. And I don't remember a season of my life. I've told so many couples this recently, I don't remember a season of my life where I have not been in church, because of the legacy that my parents have given me. Even when I didn't want to be there as a teenager. I was in church, and seeds were constantly getting planted. And then one day, I couldn't run from what God was leading in my life anymore, and I had to surrender and go all in.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Well, we're glad you're here man, and we're proud of you. Your dad was actually here in this building serving today. Not only does he care for the sick and pray for people who are going through difficulty, he had a paintbrush in his hand. He was in here serving, painting doors and getting us ready for Easter Sunday. So we love pastor Johnny. We love the whole Hood family, Joyce and Riann and everyone. How about you share that mic with Curt there for just a second. And Curt, I know that your raising was a little bit different in that you maybe didn't have that example. I think it's okay to talk about it of a father who was maybe a strong Christian, who was making that choice for your home. And but your mama was on fire for Jesus and loved the Lord. And I was just standing right over here the other day, and I heard you telling a story about your grandma getting saved, right? Did I get that right?

 

Pastor Curt Hill

Well, yes. She had a renewed faith in the Lord. She'd been out of church for a long time. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

But that came from….

 

Pastor Curt Hill

I think it came from my mom and her sisters, and even her brothers, and family members who had planted themselves in the house of the Lord. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Wow. And I guess where I was going with that is just how, you know sometimes there can there even be a little bit of a break, or a little bit of falling away, whatever causes those things, but your your grandma, you know, probably impacted by your the your mom's faith, your faith, etc. It's not just the descendants, but it started like when this one reached back and pulled this one forward, you know.

 

Pastor Curt Hill

A lot of her children were serving the Lord and grandchildren, and you know, she just been out of church for a long time and God moved on her heart after a time in my life, I was actually not even expecting her to answer the question in a favorable way. I said hey granny,  I can come get you in the morning if you want to go to church. I started to close the door, and she said, you know, I've been thinking, I may go with y'all tomorrow. And of course, my uncle was there, and we just come back from serving in a ministry, and we were really excited. And so I think it can go both ways. Your witness shines

throughout your whole family.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

It can go up the tree or down the tree, you know. And I'll put you on the spot there talking about some of that. And they were asking me what we were going to talk about before we come on here, and I was like I don't know. I just know that we're going to talk about some things that the Lord is doing in our lives. And so for me, you know, just really kind of thinking through and celebrating the goodness of God. I think Easter weekend can be really special for some families, I really believe that. And what I'm thinking is Good Friday, would be a great time for somebody to bring their family to church. And I'm thinking Easter Sunday, would be a great time for somebody to bring their family to church. And whether you're believing for somebody up the tree, or you're believing for those that come after you in the tree, that there's going to be people who just have a phenomenal experience with the Lord. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so thank you guys for being a little bit vulnerable there, showing some of your stories. So, here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna ask, you guys grab communion, and we're just gonna celebrate the fact that we get to choose life. I’m going to mess up the decor here for a second. We get to choose life. And this bread, as a matter of facet, we got three of those, you guys can just take one for each of you. I expect you to eat it all. No, I'm joking. Just kind of take it and then tear off something for you personally. And so I'm thinking through how that the bread represents the broken body of Jesus Christ, and the cup represents the shared blood of Jesus. It's because of his broken body, it's because of his shed blood, that heaven and earth get to testify that we can choose life and receive blessing, and we can overcome death and the curse of this world. And so Jesus took the bread, Jesus broke the bread, Jesus gave the bread and he told him, he said, I want you to take and I want you to eat, this is my body. So if you would, I want you to take and eat of the bread.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Be thankful that on that cross, when Jesus is releasing grace, knowing that so many would reject him, he still chose to release it. And be thankful that you've received it. He lifted the cup, he told him as often as you drink of this, I want you to do it in remembrance of me. It's the shedding of the blood for the remission of sins. It's like the greater eraser that goes to the record books of heaven and just cleans everything out for us, cleans our record books. I’m going to  ask if you would to take a drink of the cup. Choose life. Choose life. Choose life. And with it comes blessing. Life more abundantly, more blessed than you can imagine, exceedingly abundantly above all you could ask or think.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I want to just pray that over you. You guys agree with me in this. Father, I just ask you for people that are listening, people that are watching, people that are a part of this moment that Lord you are going to bless them in the city, you're going to bless them in the field, you're going to bless them coming and going. They're going to be the head and not the tail, because God, they choose life. And God I thank you for some people that are just even dealing with anxiety, and dealing with depression, and dealing with worry, that God they're just going to choose life. And they will realize God didn't set death and cursing before me, he sat life and blessing before me. And that's what I choose and that God, we're going to live and our descendants are going to live, and we're going to celebrate the goodness of the grace of Jesus Christ. And Lord, we just pray that there's going to be, God, just lots and lots of people this Easter weekend. Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and beyond that make the choice to choose life. And in it God, their lives will be blessed, not just in earth but in heaven forever and always. Let it be done in Jesus’ name, in Jesus’ name. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Again, I invite you to go to 3trees.com and it's there that you can find the details on our service schedule for Easter weekend. Reminder that whatever you see there, it's a switch up for this weekend; we'll be back to our regular services following Easter. And so you guys know anything I need to say that I haven't said, something I left out? Alright, we good. Hey, we love you guys so much. Thank you so much for being a part of our Wednesday night gathering. We'll be back again next Wednesday night and sharing with you in church online. God bless you. Go with God, he’ll go with you, greater things are yet to come.